Review – The Librarian (aka The Literary Equivalent of a Warm Hug)

I came across this book in mid-December on the recommendation of the Waterstone’s app (what a blessing and a curse that is), and although I read it quickly I wouldn’t say I devoured it in the way I binge-read quite a lot of books – it felt more like floating along the lazy river at Wet n Wild, it progressed quite quickly but I felt completely relaxed throughout the journey.

‘The Librarian’ follows Sylvia Blackwell as she moves to a remote country village in Wiltshire to work as a children’s librarian (the dream). It’s definitely a must-read for any lifelong bibliophile, with so many references to classic children’s books – as she guides the local children through the first steps of their reading journeys it feels like a walk down memory lane. Although it takes place in the 1950’s, Salley Vickers’ writing style is so compelling that the era becomes almost irrelevant, the characters are so well developed that this could take place in any time period and still work. I would say the main ‘plot’ focuses on Sylvia’s affair with a married GP, while at the same time trying to find her own way in her life away from her parental home, but this isn’t the sole focus of the book.

It sounds very negative to say this book is ‘plotless’, but it’s one of those great stories which doesn’t need a single focus point, it simply consists of great characters with rich histories in which you become really invested as they gently trundle along through life; and the reader knows that whatever the next chapter brings, they’ll enjoy it. Quite like The Breakfast Club, or Downton Abbey – with Downton there is an overall plot, but every time I sat down to watch it I didn’t feel the urgency of ‘I MUST KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT’, it was rather more ‘whatever happens this week with these characters, it will keep me interested’. As with any good read, I definitely became invested in the characters, but Salley Vickers took this even further and by a couple of chapters in, I feltlike I was living vicariously through Sylvia Blackwell. Yes – my idea of living vicariously is by living in a cottage and working in a library, there is not one single hint of sarcasm in that. Picking up this book every evening after work felt like catching up with old friends, or relaxing into a warm bath on a cold, rainy night; and when a book can have that effect, who cares what the plot is?

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